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From tweets to casino bets: 3 ways to engage participants at your next planning retreat

October 9, 2017

    Each year, health system planners gather leadership teams for a retreat to discuss the strategic future of their organization. These retreats have the potential to catalyze major decisions by soliciting feedback and gaining stakeholder buy-in—but all too often, retreats fail to arrive at these goals because they don't engage participants in meaningful discussion. 

    To ensure your retreat solicits critical thinking and strategic decision-making, try using these three discussion exercises:

    1. Role-playing exercise

    Goal: Craft a plan to address market uncertainties

    To craft a plan that address major changes in your market or threats to the organization, consider a role-play or scenario planning exercise. Assign participants the role of a competitor, payer, or patient. Then, play-out organizational reactions to various market disruptions. If your leadership team is interested in scoping a new partnership, for example, this exercise could uncover the underlying assumptions of various stakeholders and forecast the partnership's impact across the greater market. 

    Turn to our new Scenario Planning Workshop Guide at your next retreat to theorize organizational responses to future scenarios.

    Download the Guide

    2. Imaginary tweet exercise

    Goal: Learn how to solicit stakeholder input on strategic issues

    To surface pointed insights regarding about an issue, such as emerging consumerism across the system, form small discussion groups. Have groups summarize the biggest insights resulting from discussion in "Tweet form" (under Twitter's standard 140-character-maximum limit). Distilling thoughts on large strategic initiatives down to just a few words will help your leadership team identify the most salient takeaways.

    3. Casino bet exercise

    Goal: Develop stakeholder buy-in on strategic issues

    A recent Harvard Business Review article showed that gambling exercises can actually aid strategic thinking and group decision-making by forcing participants to place and defend bets on future revenue sources.

    To incorporate a casino bet exercise in your retreat, provide small groups with poker chips (or similar, small standardized objects). Then ask participants to allocate their chips, representing the organization's annual budget, across business lines. Once the groups' bets are analyzed, participants can defend their decisions, attempt to persuade others of their bets, and ultimately discuss areas of conflicting priorities.


    Create a presentation-ready plan

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